How to open a bank account in Saudi Arabia as a new expat

As you get ready to move to Saudi Arabia, one of the first and most crucial tasks is to open a local bank account. Having a Saudi bank account is essential to receive your salary, pay bills, send money home to your loved ones and manage your finances while living in the Kingdom. The process of opening a bank account in Saudi Arabia can be a bit different from what you may be used to in your home country. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the banking system in Saudi Arabia and the steps involved in opening a bank account as a new expat.

Understanding Saudi Arabia's Banking System

Saudi Arabia has a sophisticated and modern banking system, with numerous reputable and local and international financial institutions offering a wide range of services. Expats are welcome to open accounts at any of the banks in the Kingdom. The banks in Saudi Arabia are technologically advanced, offering internet and mobile banking for convenient financial management.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) is the central bank responsible for regulating and supervising the banking industry. Islamic banking principles are prevalent across the financial sector, with many banks offering Sharia-compliant accounts and investment options. Islamic banking is based on the principles of Sharia law. Most banks will also have special products for women and women-only branches for those who wish to open a bank account and conduct their financial affairs in total privacy and comfort.

Opening a bank account in Saudi Arabia

To open a bank account in Saudi Arabia, you will need to prepare and provide the following documents, if not more:

  1. Residency permit (Iqama): A valid residence permit issued by the Saudi government
  2. Passport: A valid passport with at least six months' validity. Some banks may need a passport that is valid for a year.
  3. Proof of employment: A letter confirming your employment status
  4. Proof of address: A utility bill or rental agreement with your address in Saudi Arabia
  5. National ID number: Your unique national ID number issued by the Saudi government

Steps to open a bank account in Saudi Arabia

  1. Pick a bank: Locate a branch of your chosen bank and schedule an appointment, although walk-ins are often accommodated. Some banks like alrajhi bank have the provision to open an account digitally with ease for Iqama and National ID holders.
  2. Complete the application: Fill out the application form accurately and provide the necessary documents.
  3. Account approval: The bank will process your application, which may take a few days.
  4. Initial deposit: Once approved, you'll likely need to add a certain amount of money to activate your account.
  5. Payment cards & internet banking: Discuss options for obtaining a debit card, credit card and setting up online banking for convenient access to your funds and international transfer options.
    1. Remember, the bank you choose will have its own process and requirements for opening a bank account. This can change at any time so stay informed and updated before you start your application.

Opening a bank account if you do not have an Iqama yet

If you have just moved to Saudi Arabia on your 90-day work visa, you’re most likely still waiting for your Iqama to be issued. Don’t worry, banks like ‘alrajhi’ still let you open a bank account with ease while you wait. You just need to visit a branch in person.

Meet with a sales representative or relationship manager at the branch who will help you navigate the process smoothly. Some of the documents to take with you include:

  1. Valid passport (6-months validity)
  2. Business visa (90-day work visa)
  3. Company letter (official letter from the employer stating the purpose of the visit, duration of stay, and confirmation of the prospect’s position within the company)
  4. Proof of address (evidence of temporary address in KSA)
  5. Bank-specific account application form

Sign the required forms and the bank will load your information into the system. Once your data is reviewed and verified you will be alerted when your bank account is activated and ready for you to use.

Contact our helpful team for assistance with opening your bank account in Saudi Arabia.

Banking best practices as a new foreign worker

  1. Understand account types: Familiarize yourself with different account types available, such as current, savings, foreign currency and investment accounts.
  2. Ask about fees: Clarify any fees associated with your account, including maintenance fees and transaction charges.
  3. Maintain proper documentation: Keep your documents, such as your Iqama, passport, and employment details, up-to-date and readily available when required by the bank.
  4. Carry cash for initial expenses: Due to unforeseen processing times, we recommend you bring enough cash to cover your immediate expenses upon arrival.
  5. Ask for assistance: Many employers in Saudi Arabia understand the bank account setup process and may offer guidance or provide a cash advance to bridge the gap.
  6. Be mindful of cultural norms: Respect local culture and dress codes when visiting government premises and bank branches.

Banking in Saudi Arabia and cross-border banking made simple

By following these best practices and staying informed about the banking landscape in Saudi Arabia, international workers can navigate the process of opening and managing a bank account with ease and confidence. With a functional and seamless cross-border banking suite like ‘alrajhi global,’ you can receive your salary, make international payments, and enjoy the financial security that comes with convenient access to your money. Apply now or reach out to us with any questions as you settle into your new home in Saudi Arabia.

Learn more about ‘alrajhi global’ and our exclusive rewards for international professionals here. Welcome to the exciting world of banking in the Kingdom!